Every year around the first week of September, thousands of fanatic music lovers hit the streets of Portland, anxiously scanning their Music Fest schedules to determine how to see the best cross-section of bands in a finite period of time. While Music Fest NW started out as a relatively small event featuring mostly local bands and a few assorted venues, it has radically expanded into a six day extravaganza showcased at practically every venue in Portland covering musicians from all over the country.
This year, I was fortunate enough to win a free pass to Music Fest NW, thus allowing me the ability to cover the event in full on Eclectic Grooves. Considering the abundant scope of this event, I figured that I would provide a schedule of my picks for Music Fest NW to the readers who plan on attending it this year.
The following is my suggested itinerary to get the most out of this year's festival. Those of you who dig the music regularly posted on Eclectic Grooves will likely agree with my picks for Music Fest NW this year. I plan on featuring a full write-up about the bands that I saw throughout the week that will most likely come to fruition shortly after the event has ended.
With only two venues open for the evening, you will be able to slowly ease yourself into the idea of immersing yourself into a week filled with long lines, busy traffic and a diversity of music that has plenty to offer both the fanatical and casual music fan.
For this evening, I am opting to check out Summer Cannibals at 9:00. While I've only heard a couple songs on their bandcamp page, the Portland band seems adept at crafting short, sharp bursts of indie rock that harkens back to the classic 90's sound of the Breeders and Throwing Muses. Black Bananas plays at Dante's after Summer Cannibals, but after being slightly underwhelmed with Jennifer Herrena's band RTX at Music Fest 2011, I am opting to check out Joey Bada$$ at the Roseland instead. For those of you who haven't heard of Joey Bada$$, he is the latest from a long line of young talented rappers who actually has something important to say.
9:00- Summer Cannibals- Dante's
10:00- Joey Bada$$- Roseland
While Wednesday expands to featuring music at seven venues, there are only a couple bands that I plan on checking out. First, I am heading to the Doug Fir Lounge to check out the supergroup Eyelids featuring members of The Decemberists, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and Boston Spaceships. I haven't been able to find any of their music online except for an ep available on their bandcamp page, but it features enough hook-filled melodies and offbeat musicianship to make me curious as to how this will translate in a live setting.
From here, I will be heading to the Crystal Ballroom to check out Lonnie Holley, an enigmatic experimental musician who has only recently released his first recordings to the public. Along with artists such as Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, Holley is another musician who has been toiling way in obscurity for many years, only to be recognized for his talents during the past year. This should be a truly mesmerizing performance, so don't miss this one at any cost.
To finish out the evening, I plan on staying at the Crystal Ballroom to check out Deerhunter. Even though this will be the fifth time I have seen Deerhunter live, they always put on a stellar show. Plus, I am really excited to see how the new material from Monomania translates to the stage.
8:00- Eyelids- Doug Fir Lounge
9:30- Lonnie Holley- Crystal Ballroom
10:30- Deerhunter- Crystal Ballroom
While I would like to check out Youth Lagoon at Pioneer Square, the ticket that I won only covers one of the Pioneer Square shows, and I chose to attend the Neko Case show at Pioneer Square on Sunday. Starting out the evening with Like a Villain at the Old Church seems to be the best plan to ease into the evening. The songs that I have heard on her bandcamp page range from beautiful tapestries of aural delights, to avant-garde electro-folk. Mt Eerie and Bonnie Prince Billy are playing Thursday and Friday at the Aladdin, so I am still trying to determine which night works best for my itinerary. At 10, I can choose between seeing Bonnie Prince Billy at the Aladdin who also plays on Friday, or I can check out Sun Angle at Mississippi Studios
During the 11:00 time slot, decisions start to get more difficult. Since I can't be in more than one place at a time, I'm pretty sure that I will either be checking out local band Houndstooth or Bob Mould. I've heard really good things about Houndstooth's live show, and I am really digging the mix of Americana, psych and classic rock on their debut album Ride Out the Dark. From here, I will most likely close out the evening with The Men, a once intense noise punk band who have gradually settled into a more mellow, accessible sound over the course of their last two albums. Still, I have heard that they are a great live band to check out so I'm willing to take the chance on them. For those of you who like tripped-out electronic music, you might want to check out Tobacco at Holocene.
8:30- Like a Villain- The Old Church
9:00- Mt. Eerie- Aladdin
10:00- Bonnie Prince Billy- Aladdin Theater
10:00- Sun Angle- Mississippi Studios
11:00- Houndstooth- Bunk Bar
11:00 Bleached- Dante's
11:00- Bob Mould- Doug Fir Lounge
12:00- The Men- Dante's
12:00- Tobacco- Holocene
Since there are a couple bands who I absolutely have to see on Friday, my schedule for the evening will be much simpler. It will likely start out by seeing the extraordinary improvisational percussionist Neal Morgan at The Old Church at 8:30. Then, at 9:00 I will be checking out the beguiling surf-garage throwback sound of the all-female quartet La Luz at Dantes. During the 10:00 time slot, I will be checking out the improvisational collective Godspeed You Black Emperor at the Roseland. Unfortunately, I will probably have to leave this show a little bit early in order to arrive at Branx on time to check out the brain-frying psychedelic soul of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. After this, I will be heading to Dante's to check out the ever prolific garage rocker Ty Segall during the 12:00 time slot. Finally, if I have any juice left over, I will head to Holocene to see the electro-glitch-hop master Prefuse 73.
8:30- Neal Morgan- The Old Church
9:00 La Luz- Dante's
10:00 Godspeed You Black Emperor- Roseland Theater
11:00 Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Branx
12:00- Ty Segall- Dante's
1:00- Prefuse 73- Holocene
Once again I plan on starting the evening off at the Old Church to catch the intense cerebral folk of Angel Olsen whose 2012 record Half Way Home won over the hearts of both fans and critics alike. For the 9:00 time slot, I plan on catching the legendary soul-funk artist Shuggie Otis at the Crystal Ballroom. If I wasn't catching this show, I would likely be at the Aladdin checking out the instrumental jazz-noir of the explosive duo 1939 Ensemble. From here, there is about a 1/2 hour before the Charles Bradley set starts at the Crystal Ballroom, so I might head to Backspace to check out Sean Croghan's new project called The Pynnacles or to the Star Theater to see a little bit of Bleeding Rainbow's set. From 10:30 to 11:30, I will likely be checking out Charles Bradley at the Crystal. This is where decisions get really tough as there are 4 bands that are worth seeing in the 11:00 time slot- White Lung at Dante's, Team Dresch at Backspace, The Dodo's at Star Theater and Love as Laughter at Bunk Bar. If Bradley's set goes from 10:30-11:30, I might be able to catch the tail end of The Dodo's or Team Dresch's set. To finish off the evening, I plan on checking out Sonny and the Sunsets at Bunk Bar. While I wasn't exactly digging Sonny's last album, I have heard that the new record kicks it into high gear like the earlier material.
8:30- Angel Olsen- The Old Church
9:00- Shuggie Otis- Crystal Ballroom
9:00- 1939 Ensemble- Aladdin Theater
10:00- The Pynnacles- Backspace
10:00- Bleeding Rainbow- Star Theater
10:30- Charles Bradley- Crystal Ballroom
11:00- Team Dresch- Backspace
11:00- Love as Laughter- Bunk Bar
11:00- White Lung- Dante's
11:00- The Dodos- Star Theater
12:00- Sonny and the Sunsets- Bunk Bar
On Sunday, I am not interested in checking out the bands opening for Neko Case, so I plan on arriving at Pioneer Square around 7:30 to catch Neko Case. While the songs I have heard from Case's latest record haven't exactly floored me, I know from experience that she always puts on a great live performance.
8:00- Neko Case- Pioneer Square
I hope that you have found this guide useful, and I would love to hear from any of you who plan to attend this year's Music Fest NW. If you are interested in meeting up for any of these shows, please drop me a line in the comments.